Event organisation and future challenges for the sport industry

Vincent Schatzmann 250

Today, the growing interest in sports events is undeniable. The recent FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil generated an aggregate 3 billion interactions on Facebook and 672 million messages on Twitter according to social media companies. While millions were actively showing their enthusiasm for the tournament on digital platforms, some 3,429,873 football fans attended the games in the 12 host cities according to official FIFA data.

The organisation of the FIFA World Cup™ from start to finish is complex. The pre-bidding process starts with an expression of interest from a Member Association which is then followed by a bid registration. The Bidding and Hosting agreement next requires the national federation of the candidate country to set up a Local Organising Committee (hereinafter: LOC) in the form of a separate legal entity to organise the FIFA World Cup™.

The hosting of the world’s biggest single-event sporting competition involves several parties and they all have specific functions. 

First, FIFA is responsible for operational functions, exploitation of rights and financing. As the founder and exclusive owner of the FIFA World Cup™, it has overall coordination and a high level of control over rights. Thereby, in terms of commercial rights exploitation, FIFA has exclusive rights to its own name. 

Secondly, according to Article 1.2 Regulations 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Brazil, the LOC is responsible for organising, hosting and staging the final competition, and also security for the duration of the event. Meanwhile, FIFA will exercise its supervision and control. Host cities mainly have responsibility for administrative support and government guarantees which are attached to the bidding and hosting agreement. 

FIFA invested more than US$ 850 million in the organisation of the FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil and according to the Getulio Vargas Foundation, 14 million jobs were created in the last four years in order to organise the tournament. In addition, 152,000 volunteers were registered, while some 14,000 LOC/FIFA volunteers were also selected to work at the ‘Mundial’.

The organisation of a mega-event involves the participation of millions as spectators and workers. As a result, a wide range of roles must be fulfilled from the bidding stage to the actual hosting of the event. 

We can list a broad range of areas in which sports managers were involved in Brazil, from event operations supervision (transport, signage, decoration, communication, radios, catering), legal services, ticketing, team coordination (300 tons of team equipment, almost 18,000 passengers transported, 450 training sessions), medical services, media and TV (16,746 media accreditations were printed), marketing, licensing, hospitality services to IT solutions. 

In the early stages of the event planning, the organisation of the tournament was criticized by various sections of the media. However, this climate of pessimism from the press prior to the kick-off of the 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup™, soon turned to coverage with great enthusiasm as the LOC/FIFA accomplished a fine level of organisation.

The commitment to improve their sport and their competition is valid for all world sports governing bodies - whether the competition they are responsible for can be categorised as a mega-event or not. Today, the rise of investment levels in the setting up of tournaments brings high expectations not only from sports fans but also from the various stakeholders who expect a positive legacy for their specific sporting showcase. This phenomenon, therefore, pushes sporting event organising bodies to be self-demanding and, as a result of that, more and more selective in the partners they choose to build up such events. The increasing need for specialists in the sport industry is a big concern at both national and international level management of world sport. As a consequence, the need for highly qualified managers has never been more important. 
The global sports industry is well aware of these increasing challenges. In response, it encourages those interested in sport management careers, such as former athletes and specialists in a broad range of business disciplines, to adapt to the realities of the modern sports event workplace. For example, sport management education programmes, such as the International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport (‘The FIFA Master’) offered by the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), is carefully designed to help individuals prepare for the challenges of a new career in sport management as they study for a qualification which will allow them to develop sports management worldwide. This is a unique opportunity for future sports managers with an international background to build an international network, share their local experiences and prepare for the future with a multi-disciplinary educational programme. 

Vincent Schatzmann is the General Secretary of the CIES, based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland


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